Dr Musa Kika

Dr Musa Kika is a Zimbabwean constitutional and human rights lawyer. Dr Kika is the current Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.

On 10 May 2021, Dr Musa Kika filed an urgent High Court application suing Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and all judges of the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court over the extension of Chief Justice Luke Malaba's tenure.

Malaba was set to retire upon reaching 70 years according to the Constitution before President Emmerson Mnangagwa signed the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 2) Bill into law, which allows judges to continue serving on the bench until they reach 75.


Kika is the youngest of four children and the first in his family to attend university. He was raised in Zimbabwe to a Malawian father and Mozambican mother.[1]


Kika holds a PhD in Public Law from the University of Cape Town (UCT), and an LLM from Harvard Law School.[2] Musa Kika completed an LLM in 2017, and holds an LLB (summa cum laude) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. [3] He also holds a Certificate in Advanced Human Rights from the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria.

While in high school in Harare, Dr Kika’s extracurricular activities included involvement with the Human Rights and Child Law Forum clubs. The latter was operated by the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Justice for Children.

A Mandela Rhodes Scholarship brought him to UCT where he planned to register for a master’s degree. However, when his supervisor, Professor Hugh Corder, saw how Kika’s thesis was shaping up, the professor and his colleagues recommended that he apply to the Doctoral Degrees Board to upgrade the degree. The application was granted and he graduated with a PhD in 2019.

At UCT, Musa Kika's experience included a stint as an assistant researcher at the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit within the Faculty of Law, which exposed him to judicial governance issues across the continent. He also undertook field research in Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, and was a clerk for the Chief of Justice and Judges of Appeal at the Supreme Court of Namibia. He also tutored, lectured and invigilated classes at UCT.

While at Havard Law School, Dr Kika was a senior editor for the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. He also worked as a research assistant to a prominent professor of constitutional law, and was engaged in the Harvard Human Rights Program. Shortly before leaving Harvard, he was awarded a Harvard public service fellowship called the Kaufman Fellowship, which recognises “exceptional promise for a successful public service career”.[1]


During the 2018 elections, Musa Kika joined the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) in Harare, to do election-related human rights litigation. He worked with ZLHR in-house and network lawyers in litigating human rights issues under the organization’s Human Rights Defenders (HRD) project which focuses on protecting through litigation and legal services individuals who are identified by ZHLR as human rights defenders, who fall victim to human rights abuses.

Previously, Dr Kika had worked for Justice for Children in Harare in research, lobby and advocacy, and has clerked for a Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa. He has also clerked for the Chief Justice and Judges of Appeal at the Supreme Court of Namibia, Windhoek, and most recently worked with the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit in Cape Town as a legal researcher on judicial governance matters in Africa.[3]

Dr Musa Kika was appointed Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum executive director with effect from 1 August 2020.[4]

Luke Malaba Tenure Extension Challenge

On 10 May 2021, Dr Kika filed an urgent High Court application suing Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and all judges of the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court over the extension of Luke Malaba's tenure as Chief Justice.

Dr Musa Kika sought an order to have Chief Justice Malaba cease to hold the office of the Chief Justice at midnight on May 15, 2021, and have his deputy, Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza, take over in an acting capacity pending the appointment of a substantive Chief Justice below 70 years of age.

In his papers, Dr Kika argued that the signing into law of Constitutional Amendment Bill No.2 into law by President Mnangagwa was meant to undermine judicial independence. He wrote:

"Any action, conduct or deed of Luke Malaba post the 15th of May 2021 purportedly as the Chief Justice of Zimbabwe is null and void and of no effect. It was also clear that the purpose behind the amendment was to assail judicial independence. It is a matter of regret that the impression is given that the honourable and distinguished judges concerned are being made to receive a favour, one which is fundamentally improper under the circumstances. In accordance with provisions of section 164(1) and (2), the developments that have led to this application also constitute a deliberate and calculated assault on the independence of the judges concerned. Such independence has been assaulted by the first respondent.”

Kika, represented by Advocate Thabani Mpofu instructed by Cinginkosi Dube of Scanlen and Holderness, added that the Constitution provided that “members of the Judiciary should not receive any gift or favour that may give the appearance of judicial impropriety”.

He said the clause on judges’ retirement age was rejected during public hearings in December 2019, but Parliament chose to pass it plunging the country into a constitutional crisis.[5]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 PENNY HAW, Dream big and apply yourself fully, UCT, Published: December 9, 2019, Retrieved: May 12, 2021
  2. Musa Kika, Mandela Rhodes, Published: No Date Given, Retrieved: May 12, 2021
  3. 3.0 3.1 PSVF Fellow: Musa Kika (LL.M. ’17), Havard Law School, Published: No Date Given, Retrieved: May 12, 2021
  4. Dr Musa Kika appointed Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum executive director, The Zimbabwean, August 6, 2020, Retrieved: May 12, 2021
  5. MOSES MATENGA/HARRIET CHIKANDIWA, [newsday.co.zw/2021/05/cj-malaba-ouster-plot-thickens/ CJ Malaba ouster plot thickens], NewsDay, Published: May 12, 2021, Retrieved: May 12, 2021